People Power Under Attack 2020: A report based on data of the CIVICUS Monitor

CIVICUS published in December this year a new report on the findings of the CIVICUS Monitor 2020. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the conditions for civil society within countries and over time.

The CIVICUS Monitor conceptualises the conditions for civil society as the respect in policy and practice for the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. In an attempt to capture these dynamics on a global scale, over 20 organisations from around the world have joined forces on the CIVICUS Monitor to provide an evidence base for action to improve civic space. In order to draw comparisons at the global level and track trends over time, the CIVICUS Monitor produces civic space ratings for 196 countries. Each country’s civic space is rated in one of five categories – open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed or closed – based on a methodology that combines several sources of data on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

One of the highlights of this year’s report is the assessment on the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for the repression and limitation of civil liberties. Consequently, during this year there has been a downgrade regarding the respect of the civic space in many countries around the world. In addition, the report evaluates the top ten violations to civic freedoms over the year which include the detention of protesters, harassment and censorship. However, it also considers a positive aspect: in many countries massive protests were often the key factor that led to positive changes, as was the case in Chile and in many states of the U.S.A.

The report then carries out a detailed analysis of the state of civil society in the different regions of the world. In the Americas, the main violations of civil liberties were intimidation, harassment, attacks on journalists, the detention of protesters, and the use of excessive force by the security forces. Furthermore, four countries in the region downgraded in their ranking: The United States, Chile and Ecuador went from “reduced” to “obstructed”, and Costa Rica went from “open” to “reduced”. As for Argentina, the country’s civic space remains classified as “reduced”. But it is not all bad news. There were also positive events, in particular 22 good news stories about positive civil society developments, 14 about positive court rulings and 9 about the release of human rights defenders.

Finally, the report puts forward recommendations for both states and regional and international bodies, as well as for donors, on how to strengthen civic space and improve respect for civil society freedoms.

To access the full report, visit

Source: CIVICUS (2020). People Power under Attack 2020. A report based on data from the CIVICUS Monitor.